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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Chill in the Air

In cold Soldier Field, the Bucs lose 13-10 to the Bears in a game that could have lasting implications


QB Shaun King scrambled for a career-high 72 yards but couldn't get the passing game going in a stiff Chicago wind.

In truth, the cold that infused Chicago's Soldier Field on Sunday was bearable. Still, the Bucs felt a chill in their veins on at least three occasions: when Pro Bowl S John Lynch lay on the turf with a shoulder injury, when Pro Bowl FB Mike Alstott pounded the same ground with his fist in reaction to a knee injury, and when the final seconds ticked off the clock in a 13-10 loss to the Bears.

Tampa Bay's offense was relatively effective on the ground, with Warrick Dunn's running and Shaun King's scrambling leading to 165 rushing yards. However, Dunn and King each turned the ball over once, resulting in 10 Chicago points. That, and a stiff wind in their face in the fourth quarter, proved too much for the Bucs, who finished with just 60 net passing yards, to overcome.

While the loss dropped the Bucs to 6-5 and dealt a damaging blow to their playoff hopes, the potential losses of Lynch and Alstott may prove even more difficult to overcome. A long-term prognosis on the two was not available by the end of the game.

Tampa Bay had one promising chance to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter, but a third turnover ended that drive and the Bucs' hopes of a comeback victory. After driving his team past midfield mostly on his own scrambling, King tried to get a big chunk of yardage with a long pass over the middle to WR Keyshawn Johnson, but the ball was badly underthrown and fell directly into rookie LB Brian Urlacher's waiting arms.

The Bucs actually fell behind twice before, but managed to tie the game each time. A 21-yard reception by WR Marcus Robinson on third-and-seven keyed the first scoring drive of the game, a 24-yard march by the Bears that ended in Paul Edinger's 34-yard field goal.

Tampa Bay tied it on the next drive with a 55-yard march that ended on the first play of the second half when Martin Gramatica kicked a 33-yarder. A 15-yard run by Dunn and an 11-yard catch by WR Reidel Anthony on third-and-six actually got the ball in scoring position in the closing seconds of the first period, but the Bucs allowed the clock to expire so that Gramatica could kick with the wind at his back.

It appeared as if that 3-3 score would hold up until halftime, but a turn of events that would eventually prove lethal occurred in the final minute of the second quarter. Trying to use the last minute to score while the wind was still at their backs, the Bucs dropped back to pass on first and second down. The first play broke down into a two-yard scramble. The second wasn't so lucky.

S Tony Parrish provided the play of the game by stepping in front of TE Dave Moore, intercepting King's pass and returning it 37 yards up the left sideline for the go-ahead touchdown.

Tampa Bay had the wind back in the third quarter and wasted no time. King led the team on a 53-yard touchdown drive that was helped by two Chicago penalties. The first Bear miscue was a defensive holding call that erased a Walt Harris interception and the second was a face-mask penalty that tacked five yards onto a 12-yard Dunn sprint and took the ball down to the 13. Two plays later, King ran it in himself for a nine-yard TD, his fourth of the season.

The Bucs were driving again later in the third quarter when the second costly turnover occurred. On a drive that had moved from the Bucs' 10 to the Bears' 37 solely on running plays, the final mistake was a fumble by Dunn. Venerable Chicago defender Clyde Simmons recovered the ball at the Bears' 37.

The game-winning 33-yard field goal drive followed. Rookie Paul Edinger made a 48-yard field goal with the wind at his back.

Dunn finished with 75 rushing yards, just three more than King, with 72. RB Rabih Abdullah also picked up 19 yards on a gutsy fake punt from the Bucs own 10-yard line. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay limited Chicago to 83 rushing yards and three yards per carry. Chicago finished with just 243 rushing yards.

In fact, the Bears have not scored a touchdown against the Buccaneers' defense since late in 1997, a span of 18 quarters. Tampa Bay beat Chicago in Tampa this September, 41-0.

LB Derrick Brooks led the team with 14 tackles. The Bucs managed only one sack for the second week in a row, this one by DE Marcus Jones, who now has 11 on the season, just behind leader Warren Sapp (11.5). S Damien Robinson added six tackles and an interception.

During the game, provided a detailed account of the action in each quarter, with a description of each play from scrimmage. That account follows to offer a closer look at all of the action.

First Quarter

The Buccaneer offense moved the ball effectively in the first quarter, but it was Chicago that cracked the scoreboard first. Taking advantage of a favorable wind that forced a short Buccaneer punt, the Bears got a mid-quarter field goal and finished the period leading 3-0.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

After winning the toss, Tampa Bay elected to receive and RB Aaron Stecker took the opening kickoff on a line at his own one-yard line. His 48-yard return straight up the middle gave the Bucs excellent starting field position.

RB Warrick Dunn took a handoff up the middle on the first play and picked up two yards into Chicago territory. On second down, Dunn picked his way through tacklers on the left side to pick up six more. QB Shaun King then converted the Bucs' first third-down try with a quick pass on the right side to WR Keyshawn Johnson. Johnson slipped past CB Thomas Smith and got nine yards to the Bears' 34.

On the resulting first down, King tried to throw a screen pass to Dunn on the left side but tossed it over Dunn's head. A play-action on second down opened up the field and, after looking downfield, King dumped a short pass to TE Patrick Hape for a gain of six yards. However, the drive ended when DE Phillip Daniels fired around the right side and sacked King for a loss of nine.

Tampa Bay punted, and a touchback gave Chicago possession at its own 20.

Chicago's First Drive

The Bears' offense got off to an even better start than Tampa Bay's. RB James Allen started up the middle and cut right for a gain of 17 yards. Allen got the carry on the next snap as well but was stopped for a gain of two. However, QB Shane Matthews moved the chains again on second down with a nine-yard pass to TE Kaseem Sinceno.

Matthews next pass was incomplete and nearly intercepted by CB Brian Kelly, as WR Marcus Robinson appeared to be running the wrong route. On second down, S John Lynch came up to the line of scrimmage to stop Allen for just one yard. On third down, DE Marcus Jones got to Matthews as he threw, forcing a wild incompletion down the middle.

The Bears did succeed, however, in reversing the field position, as P Louie Aguiar's kick was fair caught by WR Karl Williams at the Bucs' eight.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

A quick pass to Johnson on a hitch gave the Bucs three yards on first down. FB Mike Alstott got the handoff on second down, but the Bears were ready for it and Alstott had to bull over two tacklers just to get back to the line of scrimmage. A handoff to Dunn on third down picked up just two more yards and the Bucs had to punt into the wind.

That wind made it tough on Royals, who got his punt only to the Bucs' 40.

Chicago's Second Drive

Under heavy pressure from a Buc blitz, Matthews threw incomplete on first down, firing a low pass over the middle that CB Ronde Barber nearly intercepted. On second down, S John Lynch appeared to have Allen trapped in the backfield, but Allen escaped and picked up three yards. Worse, S John Lynch suffered an injury on the play and took a minute to get up off the turf. He was diagnosed with a shoulder injury and was not expected to return.

After the delay, the Bears converted on third down. With LBs Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles blitzing, Matthews completed a 21-yard pass over the middle to WR Marcus Robinson. On the next first down, from the Bucs' 16, Matthews threw the ball away under pressure, and his second down pass, a screen to the right, was dropped by WR Eddie Kennison. On third down, a quick rush from DE Chidi Ahanotu got to Matthews just as he threw, forcing an incompletion. Chicago settled for Paul Edinger's 34-yard field goal. Chicago 3, Tampa Bay 0.

Tampa Bay's Third Drive

After Stecker's return got the Bucs out to the 40, Dunn knifed behind left tackle on first down for a gain of four. On second down, TE Dave Moore made a nice, twisting catch, then sidestepped one tackler to pick up 12 yards to the Bucs' 46.

Alstott released from the backfield on the next first down and caught a five-yard pass over the middle. On second down, Dunn picked up another big chunk of yardage, slipping out of four possible tackles to pick up 15 yards.

King tried to throw a short pass to Dunn on first down, but it was tipped at the line of scrimmage by DE Bryan Robinson and knocked to the turf incomplete. On second-and-ten, Dunn picked up four hard-fought yards up the middle, spinning off one tackle to fall forward. That left Tampa Bay with a third-and-six at the Bears' 30, and King kept the drive alive by hitting WR Reidel Anthony across the middle. Anthony slipped out of the first tackle to get 11 yards and a first down at the 19.

On first down, Dunn tried left end again but was stopped after a gain of one. A screen pass to WR Jacquez Green on second down picked up six yards behind a Johnson block. On third-and-three, Tampa Bay tried an end-around, but Green slipped down for a loss of three. The quarter ended with the Bucs about to attempt a field goal.

Second Quarter

It appeared as if the Bucs and Bears would go into halftime knotted at 3-3, but a late turnover proved disastrous for Tampa Bay. An interception for a touchdown put Chicago up by a touchdown, 10-3, at the intermission.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

On the first play of the second quarter, K Martin Gramatica nailed a 33-yard field goal to tie the score. Tampa Bay 3, Chicago 3.

Chicago's First Drive

Gramatica's first kickoff went a yard deep, but RB Glyn Milburn took it out and slipped down at the Bears' 16.

On first down, RB James Allen took a pitch to the left side and picked up two yards before LB Derrick Brooks interrupted his progress. Brooks also blew up the Bears' next play, tackling RB Curtis Enis for no gain on a quick screen pass. On third-and-eight, Matthews stepped up in the pocket and completed a dumpoff to Allen, but CB Donnie Abraham made a key solo tackle to prevent the first down after a gain of four.

Louie Aguiar came on to punt and hit a low bouncer that rolled to the Bucs' 47.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

On first down, QB Shaun King was sacked by DE Bryan Robinson for a loss of five yards. On second down, however, King threw a delayed short pass to TE Dave Moore and Moore split two tacklers to pick up 13 yards. Tampa Bay tried to convert the third-and-two with a Warrick Dunn sweep right, but Dunn was tripped up for a loss of one by CB Thomas Smith.

P Mark Royals dropped his next punt down at the Chicago five.

Chicago's Second Drive

The Bears got out of that hole by running the ball. Allen blasted up the middle for nine yards on first down, then did the same on second down for four more to the Bears' 18.

Matthews' next pass was low and incomplete in Eddie Kennison's direction. Allen got the handoff again on second down but was stopped by Nate Webster for a gain of two. The Bears converted that third-down with an eight-yard gain on a screen pass to WR Marcus Robinson.

With another first down, the Bears gave it back to Allen but he slipped down for no gain. The Bears tried to set up a middle screen to Enis on second down, but Enis dropped the ball. Matthews completed a pass over the middle to WR Marty Booker, but he was tackled immediately by CB Ronde Barber after a gain of seven.

Aguiar's next punt wasn't much better than his first, and the Bears downed it at Tampa Bay's 43 for a pickup of 22 yards.

Tampa Bay's Third Drive

FB Mike Alstott took a handoff up the middle on first down and pushed the pile ahead for a gain of three. However, Alstott was injured on the play and clearly in a lot of pain from his left knee.

After an uncomfortable play, the Bucs started up again with a screen pass to Dunn. King hit Dunn on the run and he picked up seven yards. However, the Bucs tried to pound RB Rabih Abdullah up the middle on third-and-one and he was immediately engulfed by the Bears for a loss of one.

Royals' resulting punt came off the side of his foot and went only 21 yards before going out of bounds at the Bears' 27.

Chicago's Third Drive

Another screen pass to Robinson picked up seven yards on the left side, and an identical play on second down picked up five more yards by WR Macey Brooks. The Bears tried the play one more time on the next snap, but Barber trapped Kennison for a loss of two.

However, a 16-yard pass to Kennison and another 18-yarder to Kennison on the next two snaps put Chicago at the Bucs' 29 with a first down.

Barber tripped up Allen coming up the middle on first down, stopping the Bear back for just two yards. That brought up the two-minute warning. After the break, Chicago threw another screen to Robinson and it was good for another six yards. Another short pass on third down was tipped into the air several times and nearly intercepted before hitting the ground. After the play was reviewed an upheld, Paul Edinger missed a 38-yard field goal, wide right.

Tampa Bay's Fourth Drive

The Bucs decided to try to use the last minute of the half to drive for a score, and the decision backfired thanks to a disastrous turnover. After King scrambled for two yards on first down, his second-down pass, intended for Moore, was intercepted by S Tony Parrish. Parrish returned the ball 38 yards for a touchdown. Chicago 10, Tampa Bay 3.

Tampa Bay's Fifth Drive

RB Aaron Stecker fielded a short Chicago kickoff at his own 23 but was stopped at the 34.

King got the ball to midfield on first down when he scrambled up the middle for a gain of 14. The Bucs then called a timeout. After the break, an attempted screen pass was broken up at the line of scrimmage and nearly picked off. King scrambled left and away from pressure on second down but couldn't hit Reidel Anthony downfield on the run. King did get the ball to Keyshawn Johnson on third down, but Johnson couldn't haul it in.

The Bucs called a timeout as they contemplated what to do on fourth down with 13 seconds remaining in the half. The Bucs then tried to roll King right and throw downfield, but King was sacked quickly by CB Frankie Smith, giving up possession on downs.

Chicago's Fourth Drive

The Bears took over at Tampa Bay's 41 with seven seconds remaining. A first down pass intended for Kennison fell incomplete with four seconds remaining. Kennison caught a 22-yard pass on the next snap but couldn't get out of bounds before the first-half clock ran out.

Third Quarter

The Bucs managed to tie the game back up at 10-10 in the third quarter, but missed out on another scoring opportunity thanks to their second turnover of the game. Another successful fake punt by the Bucs' special teams helped get Tampa Bay out of a deep hole late in the quarter.

Chicago's First Drive

Glyn Milburn got the opening kickoff out to the Chicago 31 to start the Bears off in the second half. QB Shane Matthews hit a wide-open Marcus Robinson on the left side on first down, but Robinson dropped the ball for an incompletion. On second down, LB Derrick Brooks reacted quickly to a short pass to RB James Allen, tackling him after a gain of three.

The Bears were forced into a late audible by the threat of a Buccaneer blitz before the next snap, and a delay-of-game penalty made it third-and-12. A third-down pass in Robinson's direction was thrown well over his head. Louie Aguiar punted into the wind on fourth down and WR Karl Williams returned the ball six yards to the Bucs' 47.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

RB Warrick Dunn got the Bucs off to a good start on first down, getting around the right corner on a sweep for a gain of nine, just inches short of a first down. QB Shaun King powered ahead on a QB sneak on second down to pick up two yards and a new set of downs.

Dunn got the ball on a delayed handoff on the next first downs and was able to pound up the middle for two yards. Another heady scramble by King on second down and picked up five yards to the Bears' 35. On third down, King scrambled right and threw a pass that CB Walt Harris intercepted just before stepping out of bounds. However, the play was nullified by a defensive holding penalty on Chicago that gave Tampa Bay a first down at the 30.

Dunn zipped up the middle for 12 yards on first down and had five yards tacked onto the end by a facemask penalty. From the Bears' 13, Dunn started outside then cut back to the middle under pressure to pick up four yards to the Chicago nine.

QB Shaun King took matters into his own hands on the next play. Twice escaping almost sure sacks, King scrambled right, then upfield, diving into the end zone for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season. Tampa Bay 10, Chicago 10.

Chicago's Second Drive

A pinball return up the middle by Milburn put Chicago at their own 44. On first down, Allen broke up the middle for a gain of six before slipping right at midfield. He then sliced off right tackle for five more and a first down at the Bucs' 45.

The Bears spread the Bucs out on first down, then ran Allen up the middle and the play worked for a gain of seven. Brooks blitzed through the line of scrimmage untouched on second down to get Allen's feet in the backfield and stop him for no gain. However, Matthews scrambled up out of pressure on third down and picked up eight yards to the Bucs' 30.

Allen slipped momentarily in the backfield on first down and was quickly surrounded after a gain of just one. RB Curtis Enis got his first carry of the game on second down but was stopped immediately by LB Shelton Quarles for no gain. Matthews amazingly escaped a sack on third down, but his dumpoff attempt went through Allen's hands. The Bears elected to go for it on fourth down.

Tampa Bay stopped the play and gained possession but made a mental error. S Damien Robinson dove to intercept an overthrown ball, giving the Bucs' possession at their own 10 instead of at the 29.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

RB Warrick Dunn started left then reversed to the right on first down, but the carry was good for just one yard. Dunn got another shot around right end on second down but couldn't get around the corner and was stopped after a gain of one. Coverage downfield on third down forced King to scramble and he was stopped four yards short of the sticks.

Mark Royals came on to punt but the Bucs gambled severely and won. C Morris Unutoa snapped the ball directly to the up-man, RB Rabih Abdullah. Abdullah dashed up a big hole in the middle and gained 19 yards to the Bucs' 36.

After the successful fake punt, King faked a handoff to Dunn, looked downfield then took off again, scrambling 13 yards to the 49. Dunn did get the handoff on the next snap and picked up six yards off left tackle. Dunn got eight more up the middle on second down, but fumbled at the end of the play, with Chicago recovering.

Chicago's Second Drive

RB James Allen lost one yard on first down thanks to a fine arm-tackle by Robinson, drawing the third quarter to a close.

Fourth Quarter

There was only one score in the fourth quarter, but it was enough for Chicago to pull out a 13-10 victory. A 48-yard field goal by Paul Edinger that followed the second of three Tampa Bay turnovers proved to be the difference.

Chicago's First Drive

On second-and-11, RB James Allen caught a short pass over the middle for four yards. QB Shane Matthews then moved the sticks with an 11-yard pass over the middle to WR Marcus Robinson.

With another first down at the Bucs' 49, Chicago got five yards on an Allen run off right guard. Allen got the call again on second down but slipped in the backfield and lost two yards. Matthews' third-down pass was well over Macey Brooks' head, but a pass interference penalty gave Chicago a first down at Tampa Bay's 38.

Allen went behind left tackle on first down to pick up three yards before being stopped by LB Alshermond Singleton. Allen snuck through a small hole on the right side on second down to get one more yard, setting up another third down. Needing five yards this time, Matthews threw a four-yard pass to Allen. However, Chicago took the lead for the third time with Paul Edinger's 48-yard field goal. Chicago 13, Tampa Bay 10.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

Aaron Stecker had difficulty controlling a liner of a kickoff and was able to get the ball back to just the 16-yard line. S Tony Parrish fired around the left side on a first-down blitz and dropped QB Shaun King from the blind side for a loss of nine. A delayed handoff to Dunn on second down failed to gain a yard and a scramble by King on third down was good for just one.

Mark Royals had to punt against the wind and the result was a Chicago possession on the Bucs' side of the field.

Chicago's Second Drive

From the 48, the Bears opened with a quick pass to RB Curtis Enis, which picked up 11 yards to the Bucs' 37. A run around the left end worked well for the Bears but a holding penalty brought it back and put Chicago in a first-and-20. Two consecutive short passes to Brooks picked up six and five yards, respectively, leading to a third-and-11. The Bears were then denied a first down when DE Marcus Jones sacked Matthews for a loss of five.

Aguiar punted with the wind at his back and hit it into the end zone for a touchback.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

King got the ball moving with a quick slant to WR Jacquez Green good for 14 yards to the 34. A screen pass to Dunn lost five yards, but King picked up seven yards on a scramble to the right on second down. On third-and-five, King zipped another slant to Green a little high, but the receiver made a sparkling grab to pick up 10 yards and a first down at the 46.

Two more King scrambles picked up another first down, one left for four yards and another right for 10 more.

However, King tried to throw downfield to Keyshawn Johnson on first down and the badly underthrown ball was intercepted by rookie LB Brian Urlacher.

Chicago's Third Drive

After Urlacher returned the ball to the Chicago 40, the Bears handed off to RB Marlon Barnes, but Barnes got just two yards before DE Chidi Ahanotu took him down. Barnes swept left on the next snap but lost a yard when Brooks dropped him in the backfield. The Bucs called a timeout after each play, leading to a third-and-nine from the 41 with 1:50 left on the clock. Barnes darted through a crowd on third down and somehow picked up just enough yardage to move the chains.

That play effectively ended the game. Three kneeldowns ran off the final 90 seconds.

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